Chiefs centurion Hikawera (Hika) Elliot will depart New Zealand at the conclusion of the 2017 Super Rugby season to link up with French club US Oyonnax.
Elliot, 31, has signed a two-year deal with the Top 14 side, marking the end of a lengthy rugby career in New Zealand that includes four Test appearances for the All Blacks.
Hika Elliot said: “It’s with mixed emotions I will depart my beloved Chiefs family at the end of the 2017 season. I am moving abroad to tackle new challenges and experiences with Oyonnax in The French Top 14 competition which I am thoroughly looking forward to. I want to thank my family, the Chiefs, the fans and New Zealand Rugby for giving me the opportunity to live out my childhood dream to travel the world and do something I love as a profession.
“My Chiefs whanau have allowed me to develop as a person and become a stronger man and for this I will be forever grateful. The many fond memories, the lifelong friendships and Super Rugby Titles I will forever hold dearly. I would also like to thank the All Blacks and Maori All Blacks for the opportunities I’ve had to represent my country and play rugby at the highest level. I will always be a proud New Zealander, Maori and Chief.”
Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie said: “Hika is a unique character, cheerful and fiercely competitive, who has matured into a bloody good man. He is proud of his Maori heritage and hugely respected for his work as our Kaea. While his achievements and durability on the footy field are impressive, it’s his work with charities and community groups that have brought balance to his life. We wish him all the best for the next phase of his footy career.”
Hastings-born Hika Elliot has made an immense contribution to New Zealand rugby during his 13-year professional rugby career. The agile, hard-working hooker made his national provincial championship debut for Hawke’s Bay in 2005 at age 19. To date Elliot has played 108 first class provincial games, representing Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Poverty Bay and Counties Manukau.
Elliot, of Ngati Awa descent, attended Hastings Boys High School where he was a part of the 1st XV for four years. In that time he was selected for the New Zealand Secondary Schools team for two consecutive years, captaining the side in 2004. The powerful front rower was also a member of the 2004 Under 19 World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 19 team and has played 9 games for the Maori All Blacks.
Hika Elliot made his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes in 2008, before moving north to link up with the Chiefs. He made his debut for the Chiefs in 2009 and has played 115 games for the Club to date. In 2016, Elliot played his 100th game for the Chiefs, a feat achieved by only three players in the Club’s history – the others being Tanerau Latimer and Liam Messam. He has scored four tries this season, with a Super Rugby career total to date of 10 tries.
Hikawera Elliot is Chief #168.